One obvious truth about businesses is that they intend to be successful. Success generally means that they have a stable and growing customer base and that work processes produce high-quality deliverables at a cost that customers deem fair.
In order to be successful, businesses need clear goals. To achieve these, businesses need to how their employees are doing. Are goals being met on the individual, division, and corporate levels? If so, some system of measuring these goals is needed. The science of measuring employee performance has turned into a business itself, with companies and websites devoted to this singular purpose.
How to Go About Measuring Employee Performance
Here are some great ways for businesses to go about measuring employee performance.
If a company is to succeed, one obvious starting place is the quality of people who are hired. By adopting hiring processes that are more data-driven, a company will increase the odds of success. For example, conducting pre-interview surveys, administering pre-employment skills and cognitive aptitude tests is becoming standard practice at many companies.
One good method for measuring employee performance is to encourage the use of self-monitoring and self-evaluation surveys. As part of the process, employees are asked to set specific work-related goals for the evaluation period (typically six months to a year). The self-evaluation, then allows the employee to hold themselves accountable for their goals and helps them feel like the valuable team members they are.
Management by Objectives (MBO)
Another form of employee involvement in their own goal-setting is Management by Objectives, or MBO. In MBO, employees and managers set individual and team goals jointly and determine how those goals align with the overall company goals and mission. In addition, employees and managers determine how those goals will be measured. Like self-evaluation surveys, MBO helps employees better engage with the company and gives them a sense of true involvement in both their own success and the success of the company.
In this system of measuring employee performance, the feedback and opinions of those with whom the employee works are taken into consideration. The name is taken from the idea of a circle of people that can include co-workers, supervisors, and others. This can give an overall view or impression of an employee’s performance, particularly if similar traits are expressed around the circle, revealing both areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.
Customer Satisfaction Surveys
For employees in customer-facing roles (whether it be in person, over the phone, or by email/chat), there should be a process whereby the customer can rate the performance of the employee. One of the most popular processes for this is known as Net Promoter Score (NPS). It assumes that a customer is a promotor or promoter of a company, a detractor, or neutral. In measuring employee performance, the system looks at how the employee either retains promoters or helps detractors become promoters.
What to Measure
With these and other processes in place, what traits should a company be looking at when evaluating performance? While some areas are obvious, others may not be as obvious but can nonetheless have a significant impact on employee performance and thus, on company success.
One of the biggest indicators of overall job performance is punctuality. As every manager knows, attendance is a big issue as it impacts more than just the employee but affects everyone on the team. If an employee is arriving late consistently, then there are underlying concerns that need to be addressed. Why is he or she late? Are there negative factors at work that cause the employee to procrastinate? Are there factors at home that keep the employee from getting to work on time? Whatever the underlying concerns, management should have a process in place to counsel the employee, with both the good of the employee and the company in mind.
Quality of Work
This is one of those obvious traits that a company is concerned with. Every company is devoted to producing deliverables, whether goods or services. In order to be successful, employees must be able to consistently meet set standards for these deliverables.
In whatever way is best for the company, systems must be in place to monitor the quality of work produced. For a manufacturing company, this might be random production checks. For a service industry (such as customer service or tech support), this will often take the form of monitoring customer interactions (whether phone, email, chat, or in-person),
Managers should be mindful of the overall attitude of an employee during the workday. Of course, we all have “off” days, but a consistently negative attitude both indicates problems and will result in more problems. This is a key reason why managers should be consistently interacting with employees instead of staying in the ivory tower.
Personal Habits at Work
In addition to attitudes, managers should be observing personal behaviors and habits at work. If an employee is engaging in activities such as unauthorized breaks, disruptive behavior, distracting colleagues, or using computers for unauthorized activities, then the effect is the same as if the employee were absent. The employee should be given clear expectations about what is appropriate and given ways to monitor his or her own behavior to achieve personal goals.
Although sometimes overlooked it in today’s culture where business casual is often the norm, a company should have a consistent dress code that puts the best possible light on employees and the company as a whole. Employees should be reminded of the dress code often, and management should model what is expected. (This can even be a way to relieve stress if a company chooses, for example, to hold a “fashion show” to show various ways of meeting the dress code.) Psychologists often tell us that the way a person dresses often reveals inner attitudes about themselves and others.
No matter how employee performance is monitored and measured, the focus should be clear, measurable and with the good of both the employee and the success of the company in mind. In some cases, this may mean moving an employee to a different position. In some cases, the employee may not be a good fit for the company. In the best cases, the employee will be encouraged and strengthened to continue exhibiting excellence.